Dodson brothers ready to let fists fly in Saturday bare-knuckle card - Albuquerque Journal

Dodson brothers ready to let fists fly in Saturday bare-knuckle card

John Dodson, shown in a file photo from 2014, looks forward to competing Saturday night on the BKFC card in Rio Rancho. (Greg Sorber/Journal)

Albuquerque’s (and Moriarty’s) Dodson brothers, together again for the first time, believe their respective styles are ideally suited for bare-knuckle fighting.

They’ll get their first chance to prove it on Saturday, when naked fists will fly at the Rio Rancho Events Center.

The 11-fight Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship card is the first of its kind in New Mexico – a full slate of inevitably bruising and bloody gloveless fights, sanctioned by the New Mexico Athletic Commission.

It’s a welcome development for the Dodsons, who as MMA fighters never fought on the same card but will do so Saturday. Both will be making their bare-knuckle debuts.

John Dodson is scheduled to face fellow MMA veteran Ryan Benoit (bare-knuckle debut) in a flyweight (125-pound) co-main event. Eric Dodson is matched against Nick Villar (0-1-1) in a featherweight (145-pound) fight.

“It’s awesome,” said Eric Dodson, younger by 18 months than brother John, 37, in a phone interview. “It’s cool, because we’re brothers and we have our own little brotherly competition.

“We’re both debuting in the BKFC, so it’s kind of like whoever does better in the BKFC on their first day … who can get the knockout the fastest, is what we’re looking for.”

Knockout power has been a John Dodson trademark during his MMA career, a quality he hopes will be enhanced by the absence of gloves.

“I’m very excited,” he said in a separate phone interview, “because I can go and dominate in a new organization and be able to bloody somebody up and bludgeon them.”

But bare-knuckle boxing, he believes – no shooting for takedowns, no submission holds, etc. – also offers him a chance to take full advantage of his quickness and elusiveness – hence the nickname “The Magician.”

“I can keep on with the in-and-out motions and movements I have that everybody seems to have a hard time to deal with,” he said.

“I’m so explosive, and being the most creative fighter out there and being as I can maneuver in and out, I don’t expect to get touched anytime soon.”

John Dodson has had a long and successful MMA career, which he said is definitely not over simply because he’s trying something new.

“Absolutely not,” he said. “I want to make sure that I can go ahead and do both of them, both avenues of going ahead and being a world champion in bare-knuckle and also being a world champion in mixed martial arts.”

Eric Dodson, by contrast, had just five amateur MMA fights, going 3-2, and never turned pro. Since last fighting in February 2018, he’s been out in the work force.

Yet, he’s remained involved – offering his services to his brother and other Albuquerque-area fighters as a sparring partner.

“I do help out a lot of fighters, people who my skills would kind of lend to,” he said. “I still stay in the gym.”

The younger Dodson came to the BKFC’s attention, and vice versa, when the organization held a tryout event at recently retired MMA fighter Donald Cerrone’s BMF Ranch in Edgewood. A couple of previous BKFC opportunities fell through, but now he’s making his debut at home, which, he said, “worked perfectly for us.”

John Dodson believes Eric’s style is even more tailor-made for bare-knuckle fighting than his own.

“This is an opportunity for my brother because this is right up his alley,” the elder brother said. “This is his fighting style, 100 percent. My brother’s so accurate with his punches that he’s actually broken a couple of bones in my face while I was getting ready for a couple of fights. He’s one of the most dangerous dudes out there.”

The Dodsons haven’t hesitated to seek help while preparing for this new venture. John Dodson has spoken extensively with Taylor Starling, one-half of Saturday’s main event against Christine Ferea in a fight for Ferea’s women’s flyweight title.

The Dodsons also have spoken with former Jackson-Wink teammates Leonard Garcia and Isaac Vallie-Flagg.

Garcia, an MMA veteran, retired from combat sports after going 2-1 in bare-knuckle completion. Vallie-Flagg (3-1) is scheduled to face Brad Kelly (2-1) on Saturday in a middleweight (170-pound) fight.

“Nobody,” John Dodson said, “is going to tell you more of the truth than your friends.”



Saturday, Rio Rancho Events Center, 6 p.m. All fights scheduled for five 2-minute rounds

Christine Ferea (5-1) Las Vegas, Nev., vs. Taylor Starling (3-0), Rock Hill, S.C., for Ferea’s BKFC flyweight title

John Dodson (debut), Albuquerque, vs. Ryan Benoit (debut), Dallas, flyweights

Isaac Vallie-Flagg (3-1), Albuquerque, vs. Brad Kelly (2-1), Hattiesburg, Miss., middleweights

Donald Sanchez (debut), Albuquerque, vs. Jeremy Smith (1-0), Johannesburg, light heavyweights

Wilfred Santiago (debut), Albuquerque, vs. Jake Young (1-0), Kansas, light heavyweights

Eric Dodson (debut), Albuquerque, vs. Nick Villar (0-1-1), Kansas, featherweights

Joshua Morales (debut), Chiapas, Mexico, vs. Antonio Soto III (2-0), Hickory, N.C.,, middleweights

Joshua Moreno (debut), San Antonio, Texas, vs. Zion Tomlinson (2-2), Roanoke, Va., light heavyweights

Kyle McElroy (0-2), Albuquerque, vs. Josh Watson (0-1), Portland, Maine, heavyweights

Jayme Hinshaw (debut), Albuquerque, vs. Cassie Robb (0-2), Casper, Wyo., flyweights

Jeremy Sauceda (debut), Albuquerque, vs. Roderick Stewart (debut), Abilene, Texas, light heavyweights

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